Maryland Heights – In what has to be one of the most egregious cases of law breaking, a non-union company hired by Missouri American Water to replace a water main in North County was found guilty by the National Labor Relations Board of “fabrication of evidence against union supporters, blatant and unconscionable actions” and that the company’s manager “had no regard for the truth.”
[frame src="https://labortribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Water20photo.jpeg" width="150" height="250" align="left" style="2" linkstyle="none" title="RATEPAYERS PAYING DOUBLE. Missouri American Water Company hired non-union ADB to dig a trench for a new water main on Wellman Court in Maryland Heights even though the company admitted it had ample construction crews available to do the work. As a result, ratepayers wind up paying double for this project. Are you listening Public Service Commission as you consider allowing the water company to raise rates ranging from 19-76% next year? - Labor Tribune photo"]The firm, American Directional Boring (ADB) was forced to settle the case that involved IBEW Local 2 trying to organize the company by paying 13 union supporters (almost a quarter of its workforce) it fired some $262,500. The case dragged on for seven years and despite the company’s appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, was found guilty of all charges leveled by Local 2.
ADB has been hired by Missouri American Water to, for the first time, install a new water main on Wellman Court in Maryland Heights. In so doing, they are taking work away from the normal five-man construction crew. Until now the company’s own construction crews have drilled new water main lines.
Utility Workers Local 335, the union representing the water company’s outside work crews, has its back against a wall in protesting this outrageous effort by American Water because the company unilaterally implemented a massive take-away contract that allows them to subcontract union work at will. The union is taking this issue to the NLRB.
Meanwhile, Local 335 is taking its concerns directly to the public by askingLabor Tribune readers and the public to express their outrage that the company is using scab labor to replace traditionally union work.
YOU ARE SUBSIDIZING SCABS
“American Water is using their ratepayers money to subsidize a company that has a notorious record of union busting, that’s obvious by their record,” said Local 335 President Tom Schneider. During the NRLB trail over the IBEW Local 2 organizing campaign, the company was found guilty of firing 13 union supporters, threatening to shut down the company if employees formed a union, threatened employees with the loss of their bonuses, health insurance and retirement plan.
The NLRB called ADB’s actions “outrageous and pervasive misconduct” reflecting the “virulent antiunion sentiment of Rusty Keeley,” the firm’s owner, noting that he stated the company “would never recognize a union…even if it take years.” Even during the NLRB trial, the firm continued to fire union supporters, the NLRB decision notes.
Subsequently the union moved its headquarters from St. Louis to Union, Mo.
“Hiring this firm to do our work clearly defines the anti-union attitude of American Water,” added Local 335 Vice President Al Ratermann.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Several things to do to help make the point that St. Louis will NOT condone a lawbreaker coming in to do a union’s work:
• Fill out the survey form coming in your mail within the next week or so from the Public Service Commission, an effort required by law since American Water is seeking rate increases of 19-76 percent next year even though the company earned $268 million in 2010 profits.
• Call and strenuously complain to Frank Kartmann – 314-991-3404 – the company’s president.
• Express your displeasure to the Missouri Public Service Commission by calling toll free 1-800-392-4211.
Let all of them know as a ratepayer, you are not happy with Missouri American Water turning their backs on its veteran, experienced union workforce.
ADB does not have a Better Business Bureau accreditation.